How to Facilitate a Fundraiser at Your Facility

For Gym Operators

How to Facilitate a Fundraiser at Your Facility

Hosting a fundraiser at your facility is an excellent way to not only raise money for a great cause but also create goodwill within your local community. While it’s not an easy venture, it will be well worth the work to re-energize your members and raise funds for a cause you care about. Here are a few steps to consider as you plan a fundraising event.

1. Choose the Cause

With a multitude of charities, disaster relief funds, and community groups continually raising money, it may be hard to determine who to support and how best to help them.

You can connect with your members by supporting a cause that’s important to them. You could also raise money to support your local community by giving to a local food pantry or homeless shelter. To bring it to a greater scale, you could go global and organize a fundraiser for a worldwide cause like a nonprofit fighting malaria or the refugee crisis.

2. Incorporate Your Space

Just as crucial as the cause is the type of event you host. Thinking outside the box is important here. While 5k walks can be great, consider other opportunities that may help you gather more participants, press, donations, and perhaps gain a little free marketing for your facility as well.

If you don’t want the event to take over your whole facility, you can maximize your group fitness rooms and utilize your current fitness equipment. Set up your stationary bikes to create a riding event that allows participants to raise money while taking an indoor cycle class. You can use your treadmills for an indoor running event, or you could even go more minimal and use jump ropes for a jump-a-thon and kettlebells for a swing-a-thon.

3. Raise the Money

The most important part of any fundraising event is, of course, the fundraising. Depending on your event, there are several ways in which you can garner donations, sponsorships, and in-kind gifts.

For participants, it’s essential for them to know how they’re responsible for raising funds. Will a portion of the registration fee go towards the charity or do they have to solicit individual donations? Do they have to find pledgers who will encourage them to work towards a goal? Make it simple and straightforward for them. Make a realistic goal and publicize it within your facility, through member emails or newsletters, and on your social channels to help members participate and give.

You can also raise support from your local community. Finding businesses who will sponsor the event, agree to match the amount raised, or donate in-kind gifts will also create significant buzz and build much-needed support. It will keep your out-of-pocket costs as low as possible, too.

4. Involve the Community, Utilize Partnerships & Interact with the Media

Going beyond your members will help ensure your event is a success. Whether you have a dedicated public relations staff member or not, you need to make sure the local news outlets know about the event well in advance of the date.

Utilizing already established partnerships is a great way to drive your event to the next level. If you have a solid relationship with your fitness equipment provider, reach out to them for support. They may be able to help you create a heightened experience for your participants, be it giveaways, contests, or even ensuring your equipment is in proper working order before the event.

Invite news outlets to visit your facility before or during the fundraiser to showcase what you’re doing. If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, find a confident staff member to talk enthusiastically about the event on the air.

Even if you can’t get a TV crew or journalist to share the event beforehand, you can still make sure it’s well publicized in the weeks leading up to it. Encourage participants to share details on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to help the event gain traction.

Social media is one of the best tools to create buzz around your event. It’s not only a useful way to share event details and encourage participants to share, but also a powerful medium to create viral traction for your facility. Creating a moving—or silly—social media post and sharing it to your social media platforms will help garner more attention of your event and provide opportunities for it to gain traction online.

As you get the word out, make it easy for people to find out more information. Create a dedicated page on your website with an easy-to-remember link and make it front and center on your homepage.

5. Share the Results

After the event, don’t forget to share how much money you raised for your cause! Regardless of whether you raised $1,000 or $50,000, your participants and community will want to know how their hard work paid off. If it’s a local cause you’re supporting, present a check to the charity, take pictures, and share them online and with the same news outlets that shared your story before the event.

Hosting a fundraiser is no easy feat, but it will be well worth it once the hard work is done and the money is raised. During the planning and on the day of the event, be sure to enjoy yourself and the fruits of your labor. Remember that the weeks of planning were, ultimately, to support a cause you love.